Prepare for the Future of Work with These Online Courses

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer June 23, 2019
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​Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are changing the way human resources is practiced, delivering greater operational efficiency and a better employee experience. But many HR professionals don't yet understand the fundamentals of the technology, or they fear its impact on their jobs.

The "AI for HR" series of online courses created by Future Workplace, an HR executive network and research firm, can help bridge the learning gap and is now available through the SHRMStore. The three five-hour courses cover how HR can pioneer the use of AI across key functions such as recruiting, onboarding and employee development.

The courses were designed by a task force of HR practitioners and developed by Jeanne Meister, founding partner of Future Workplace and the co-author of The 2020 Workplace (HarperBusiness, 2010) and The Future Workplace Experience (McGraw-Hill Education, 2016).

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) was among the first cohort to take the course in its original, five-week synchronous program offered by Future Workplace. Impressed with the quality of the course, SHRM recommended redesigning it to be self-paced and splitting it into three distinct modules.

Each course covers the fundamentals of AI; what to consider when developing an AI strategy and action plan for the particular function covered; and video case studies from HR leaders at companies like IBM, Hilton and Intel. The courses feature 12 case studies overall plus curated articles and online coaches.

"Our mission is to upskill HR leaders and their teams on using AI to reimagine numerous functions in HR," Meister said. "I think the best way to upskill is to identify the early adopters with compelling use cases across industries that people can learn from. The common thread is that these are companies using AI to improve the efficiency of their HR operations."

For example, in 2014, Hilton began to take a closer look at artificial intelligence technologies as a solution for streamlining its high-volume screening and hiring of job candidates. The hotel chain receives more than one million applications per year and manages as many as 45,000 candidates annually, explained Sarah Smart, vice president of global recruiting at Hilton.

Hilton has seen an 85 percent increase in speed-to-hire, and Smart's recruiters are making 400 percent more offers using the combination of a chatbot to automate administrative tasks, such as qualifying applicants for roles and video interviewing, and assessment software with predictive algorithms for initial screening. The recruiters then take over to work with a slate of final candidates.

"Another exciting area companies are going to be using AI for is internal talent mobility—the process of matching employees to development opportunities and career paths," Meister said.   

Fearing the Unknown

Based on 2018 research conducted by Future Workplace and computer technology firm Oracle, only 6 percent of HR respondents said their organization is deploying AI for use in HR. Another 20 percent were in various stages of planning for it. "We found that we're accustomed to using AI in our personal lives, but we're behind in using it in the workplace," Meister said.

The research also found that HR practitioners are excited about the possibilities of using AI to improve HR operations, whether in screening candidates, scheduling interviews, onboarding, answering FAQs, or personalizing the employee development and coaching process.

Respondents' biggest concerns are that AI will make human resources less "human" and that the technology will displace them, eliminating their roles or making their skills obsolete.

Surprisingly, cost did not top the list as a barrier to AI implementation. The biggest perceived obstacles were change management, leadership buy-in and alignment with other technology investments.

Jeanne Meister will be speaking about the deployment of AI in HR at the SHRM 2019 Annual Conference & Exposition on Tuesday, June 25, at 2 p.m. in the Las Vegas Convention Center in Rooms N259-261.

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